There is a revolution under way to bring renewable
resources to Native American people. Led by
modern-day warrior Henry Red Cloud, a direct
fifth generation descendent of Red Cloud, the
famous Lakota war chief, and Trees, Water &
People (TWP), inroads are being made one home
and one business at a time.
Count among its most recent advances a two
kilowatt photovoltaic array installed in October at
KILI Radio, a public radio station serving the Lakota
people of the Pine Ridge, Cheyenne River and Rosebud reservations. The solar-power system was donated by Namasté Solar, while the manpower was provided by Red Cloud’s company, Lakota Solar Enterprises (LSE) and his Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center (RCREC). Count among the ranks of volunteers on site for the installation seven students from the Shoshone Bannock, Oglala Lakota, Cheyenne River Sioux, and Northern Cheyenne tribes—solar warriors in training at the RCREC.
beats down with an endless floodtide of photons that
burns skin through t-shirts and tinted car windows.
That’s the way Henry Red Cloud likes it. To Red
Cloud – descendant of a great Lakota insurgent
chief, founder of Lakota Solar, and self-proclaimed
“solar warrior” – that July sun is key to the
independence of his fellow Lakota and native
peoples across America; it also embodies a hot
It’s July 5, the tail end of Red Cloud’s Energy Independence Day weekend, first announced in the wake of the Trump Inauguration, and meant to spread off-grid skills throughout Indian country – possibly with radical purpose.
I walked out of the sun and indoors to find Red Cloud leading a solar workshop, holding forth to a group of eager indigenous participants about photovoltaic cells and the danger of phantom loads – the way in which many appliances continue drawing current even when switched off. “Vampire” loads are a constant suck on household energy, consuming electricity and thereby emitting carbon to no purpose – while also draining an off-grid setup with limited juice.